Not Raising Hogs or Learning To Live Like the Rich Do

By  David Duncan

In the last issue of the People’s Press, reporter Beniam Awash did an expose detailing how almost $4 million dollars of public money was used to finance the renovation of the Kilmer Building in Binghamton.  The purpose of this extravagance was to create office space in the downtown area that is already overflowing with vacant office space.  Banks would not agree to make loans for this strange project unless there was a public guarantee to reimburse them. Through political assistance from Congressman Maurice Hinchey, the United States Department of Agriculture stepped in to guarantee payment for $3.4 million in loans. Why is the Department of Agriculture backing loans to create office space in downtown Binghamton?  Doesn’t  that  branch of government deal with farms, corn, soybeans, pigs, cattle, and other farm produce?

Payment for Not Farming

Well, yes and no. The USDA provides billions annually in subsidies that go mainly to the biggest agribusiness companies. But, $1.3 billion in cash also goes to subsidize people not to farm.

The new Environmental Working Group data shows that multi-millionaire, Mark Rockefeller, great grandson of John D. Rockefeller, received over $330,000 in the past ten years for not farming a property he owns in Idaho. The property is described as one of the world’s premier fly fishing retreats. Rockefeller lives in Manhattan.

How can average Broome County residents get in on the Dept. of Agriculture gravy train?

I propose we submit a proposal to not raise hogs.  Everyone who owns some land or rents property could add their combined square feet of space and formulate this amount into acreage.  On these acres we will promise not to raise hogs in return for receiving millions of dollars in subsidies.  With due diligence, Broome County could become the not raising hog capital of the US of A.

Our Chores

We will send representatives to the current hog capitals of Iowa and North Carolina to receive training as swine specialists. Once the training is complete these specialists will return and teach the rest of us how not to raise hogs.

Courses in not managing swine will be taught to all students in the County schools.  In math classes children will be taught to formulate the amount of corn and soy beans a hog needs to eat to reach market weight. Pictures of great American porkers will hang in every school building and public office.   All residents will be trained to spot swine flu from a distance of no more than 20 feet.

Advantages in Not Raising Hogs

  • We can substantially lower the number of poor in Broome County
  • Those who participate in this program will be able to wear their Sunday best every day and not worry about stepping into hog do-do.
  • Environmentally, we will not have to worry about contaminating our water supply with open air manure lagoons. (Iowa hogs produce over 50 million tons of excrement yearly).
  • Our air will also be saved from gasses produced by hogs. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization states that feedlot meat production spews more greenhouse gases than automobiles use.  Standing downwind from a swine herd can be a health hazard.
  • A new branch of SUNY B, Pork U. will open downtown, next to Ryan’s roundabout.
  • Vegetarians will be pleased.

Best of all we get well paid for our efforts.

Hedging Our Bet

If the price per pound of pork drops below what we need to live decently we will obtain subsidies to not grow corn. We will store this corn in invisible silos also be financed by the USDA. Clearly, knowing how to make money on the corn-hog cycle is important to our financial well-being.

We will still keep a few hogs so that the industrious members of the 4H can show them at County and State Fairs.

Expenses

In order to keep the gravy train rolling, we need to grease the wheels, regularly.  In 1996 Congress was committed to getting the farmers off taxpayer subsidies. Farmers were allowed  one big payment to help them get weaned off the taxpayer teat. Farmers agreed to this in exchange for ending the subsidies. Instead, after proper persuasion, Congress substantially increased the payment to farmers. In 2008 Congress again promised to cut payments to wealthy farmers. It did not happen.  The Center for Responsive Politics states, “agribusiness  contributed more than $381 million to the election campaigns of Federal candidates and incumbents”. We will have to do our part.

 

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